The First Year of Nude-Less Playboy, in Review

Turns out less is more, and we’re not talking clothing

By Alex Lauer

 
The First Year of Nude-Less Playboy, in Review
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28 November 2016

Nine issues. Hundreds of pages. And approximately zero naked ladies.

Playboy is one edition away from completing an entire year of self-censorship. Starting with the March 2016 issue, the quintessential nudie mag stopped printing barenaked photos in an attempt to reinvigorate their brand (turns out the internet has a lot more naked women than a monthly magazine, they reasoned).

And it’s working ... sort of.

During the first six months of their new nude-less identity, newsstand sales of Playboy increased 28.4%, according to industry statistics. Unfortunately, that trend did not carry over to subscriptions, which fell 23.2% during the same timeframe.

“We are encouraged, however, by the number of new subscribers — more than 100,000 so far this year — which is an indication that the magazine is starting to generate interest among a new group of readers, which was our goal all along,” a Playboy spokesman told the New York Post in September.  

We are encouraged as well. Nudity or not, they continue to create photo and video content that, ahem, may require you to lower blinds. But by shifting the focus from crass to class, Playboy has picked up a few new tricks that we look forward to seeing more of.

A photo posted by Sky Ferreira (@skyferreira) on


The cover of the October issue featured Pitchfork darling Sky Ferreira. As she wrote on Instagram, that made her “the first bunny ever to be a creative collaborator & creative/art direct.”  About damn time. Models have seen more photo spreads than even the most devoted Playboy subscriber, and by giving them creative freedom, we're confident the magazine will uncover fresh, innovative ways to capture the female form — and justify the cover price.

A photo posted by Playboy (@playboy) on


Some writers (even female ones) have argued that in dropping the full frontal, the mag has lost its transgressiveness, going so far as to say without nudity, “you’ve got nothing.” Au contraire. Before making the switch, Playboy had become a glossy collection of shiny bodies where post-production (read: Photoshop) had become just as integral to results as a photoshoot proper. That’s not exciting. Realism is exciting. Many of the photos in the new issues have been published unedited and unretouched, which is more trangressive than airbrush will ever be.

But if you’re still unsure about all these clothes and strategically placed hands, take a note from founder Hugh Hefner himself. He reportedly told CEO Scott Flanders, “This is what I always intended Playboy Magazine to look like.”

If he’s OK with it, wethinks you should give it a shot, too.

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